from the world's big
Scientists restore vision in blind mice using gold and titanium nanowire arrays
A new study from scientists in China suggests that medical devices could one day restore vision to the blind.
A team of scientists in China just took a big step toward developing technology that could one day restore vision to the blind.
Researchers at Fudan University and the University of Science and Technology of China recently published a paper in the journal Nature Communications that outlines how they used artificial photoreceptors to restore vision to blind mice.
Photoreceptors are structures that translate light into neural signals for the brain. They’re able to do this because they contain chemicals that change when hit with photons, which produces an electrical signal that’s sent to the brain along the optic nerve.
For the study, the team genetically engineered a group of mice to develop progressively degraded photoreceptors, similar to eye diseases like retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration in humans. This left the mice’s eyes and visual processing systems intact but rendered visual signals unable to reach the brain.
This illustration from the paper shows, from left to right, an eye, a retina with healthy photoreceptors, and a retina with a nanowire array.
Researchers then replaced the degraded photoreceptors with artificial ones made from tiny nanowire that was “decorated” with gold nanoparticles. This material was chosen by researchers because of its “high surface areas, large charge transport mobility, excellent biocompatibility and stability.”
Like natural photoreceptors, these nanowire arrays were placed in physical contact with retinal cells and were able to transport electrical impulses to the visual cortex. The team verified this by measuring activity in the mice’s visual cortexes after shining light onto their eyes, and by observing dilation in their pupils.
Compared to mice in the control group, the once-blind mice were able to respond to light of similar intensity, though their artificial photoreceptors could only sense green, blue and light near ultraviolet spectrum. Of course, it’s impossible to say for sure what the mice were seeing.
The technique used in the study was experimental, and even if it’s proven to be safe and effective for humans, it’ll take years before it’s available to the wider public. Still, the results suggest hope for the idea that medical devices may one day restore vision to people for whom it’s slipped away.
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Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
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Are we genetically inclined for superstition or just fearful of the truth?
- From secret societies to faked moon landings, one thing that humanity seems to have an endless supply of is conspiracy theories. In this compilation, physicist Michio Kaku, science communicator Bill Nye, psychologist Sarah Rose Cavanagh, skeptic Michael Shermer, and actor and playwright John Cameron Mitchell consider the nature of truth and why some groups believe the things they do.
- "I think there's a gene for superstition, a gene for hearsay, a gene for magic, a gene for magical thinking," argues Kaku. The theoretical physicist says that science goes against "natural thinking," and that the superstition gene persists because, one out of ten times, it actually worked and saved us.
- Other theories shared include the idea of cognitive dissonance, the dangerous power of fear to inhibit critical thinking, and Hollywood's romanticization of conspiracies. Because conspiracy theories are so diverse and multifaceted, combating them has not been an easy task for science.
A growing body of research suggests COVID-19 can cause serious neurological problems.
- The new study seeks to track the health of 50,000 people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
- The study aims to explore whether the disease causes cognitive impairment and other conditions.
- Recent research suggests that COVID-19 can, directly or indirectly, cause brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage and other neurological problems.
Brain images of a patient with acute demyelinating encephalomyelitis.
COVID-19 and the brain<p>A growing body of research reveals alarming neurological complications among COVID-19 patients. On Wednesday, for example, researchers from University College London published a <a href="https://academic.oup.com/brain/article/doi/10.1093/brain/awaa240/5868408" target="_blank">study</a> in the journal Brain that describes how some patients have suffered temporary brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage, and other neurological problems concurrent with COVID-19.</p><p>Some patients suffered brain inflammation as a result of a rare disease called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, which can cause numbness, seizures, and confusion. One patient in the study even hallucinated monkeys and lions in her home.</p>
Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images<p>A separate study published in the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7198407/" target="_blank">Journal of Clinical Neuroscience</a> notes that some COVID-19 patients have also suffered neurological complications like impaired consciousness and acute cerebrovascular disease. The study notes that past viruses like MERS and SARS also seemed to cause neurological problems.</p><p>A troubling finding among this growing body of research is that some patients seem to suffer neurological damage even when respiratory symptoms aren't obvious. Additionally, scientists aren't sure whether damage from the disease will be permanent.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Given that the disease has only been around for a matter of months, we might not yet know what long-term damage COVID-19 can cause," Dr. Ross Paterson, joint first author of the University College London study, said in a <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-07/ucl-iid070620.php" target="_blank">press release</a>. "Doctors needs to be aware of possible neurological effects, as early diagnosis can improve patient outcomes."</p><p>If you've been diagnosed with COVID-19 and want to enroll in the study, visit <a href="https://www.cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study" target="_blank">cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study</a>.</p>
Coronavirus layoffs are a glimpse into our automated future. We need to build better education opportunities now so Americans can find work in the economy of tomorrow.